“Very pleased to make your acquaintance in a place like this, “Sword Emperor”. Or should I address you as your majesty?”
Although his tone was light, Raishin’s guard was up as he carefully studied his opponent.
Now that he was looking at them side by side, he could see Loki and Frey had some similarities. Obviously their hair colour was the same, so were the colour of their pupils and skin. Their graceful faces were also similar.
However, their constitutions were vastly different. Disregarding the difference of their chests, Frey was more delicate and fragile. Loki on the other hand was like a coiled spring, full of vigour. He looked like he would be strong in a fist fight as well.
This guy would be hard to deal with… while thinking that, he turned his attention to Loki’s automaton.
The strength required to swing those enormous blades wasn’t something he could take lightly. On top of that, for Rabi’s attack to be ineffective meant that it was highly likely that it was equipped with a mysterious magic circuit. He also noted the numerous short blades in its body.
The puppeteer was trouble, and his automaton equally so. This wasn’t going to be a straight forward contest. Feeling a slight chill, he turned to confront the Sword Emperor, Loki.
The look in Loki’s eyes transfixed Raishin. In that moment, Raishin shivered slightly.
(This guy… He’s a monster inside…!)
His body was enveloped in an extraordinary magical energy. They weren’t lying when they said he could stand up to the Marshal!
In a cold voice that would freeze hell, Loki spoke.
“Who are you?”
“I am a puppeteer from Japan, Akabane Raishin.”
“I’m sorry that you’ve come out of your way to meet me like this, but now is not a good time. Get lost.”
“I’ll kill you.”
“That too, I refuse.”
“… If I may say so, I am a tolerant person. However, there are three things in this world I cannot forgive. People who give me orders. People who defy me. And also, Orientals who don’t know their place.”
“What a coincidence. I also hate arrogant westerners.”
Staring at each other, sparks invisible to the eye was flashing between them. It was a powder keg waiting to go off. Not wanting to get involved, any curious onlookers who had gathered quickly stepped back.
After a moment, Loki sighed.
“What an idiot. You have my deepest condolences. You’re obviously unable to see the difference in our strengths, right?”
“You’re the idiot. The person who goes around calling others idiots is usually the biggest idiot of them all.”
“Stop joking around. My grade averages are AAA+”
“Thinking that grades are the only way to measure one’s intelligence is proof that one’s an idiot. Also, judging people by their allotment in life is the pinnacle of idiocy.”
“Is that what you tell yourself to protect what little pride you have? Your foolishness borders on the tragic. I bet you’re the sort that repeats classes, right? And you probably have to attend makeup lessons and remedial classes as well, right?”
“Idiot. I just transferred in so obviously I’d have to repeat some classes just to catch up. As for the makeup lessons… well, so what if I have to go.”
“As I thought. You really are an idiot.”
“No, you are.”
“You.” “You.” “No, you.” “It’s you.”
Close enough that their foreheads were practically touching, this pointless argument went on.
“Um… Raishin?” “Loki…”
Yaya and Frey timidly raised their voices. However, the two youths were engrossed in their childish spat, and didn’t notice them.
“Unpleasant Oriental. I guess the only language you understand is brute force!”
Before he had even finished his sentence, Loki’s automaton had begun to attack. Right as Raishin ordered Yaya to block the strike.
A torrent of dazzling light cut in between them.
The light sliced through the cage holding Frey, blasting the bars away.
“That’s enough. And also, what were the two of you thinking, acting like brats?”
The girl with the pretty features had a stunned look on her face as she interrupted them. Behind her was a dragon roughly 8 metres long. Its steel scales shone with a velvety gloss, while its wings hung majestically in the air.
Its impressive presence made Frey tremble, and fall on her butt inside the cage.
Loki’s sharp eyes grew even sharper as he glared at the pretty girl.
“Do you intend to get in my way as well, Sharotte Belew?”
“It’s Charlotte. I don’t really care if you two want to destroy each other, but you should at least be aware of your surroundings as part of TPO. If you both let loose here, you’ll cause problems for everybody.”
(Like you’re one to talk, walking disaster—) was what everyone surrounding the commotion thought, but of course, no one dared to say out loud.
“If you plan on taking things any further, you’ll have to deal with me.”
“So, you plan on helping him?”
“N-no! I am not helping anyone. I could care less what happens to this pervert over here, but by the rules of Noblesse oblige requires me to keep public order, and to return the favour I owe him I have to fight him fairly in battle in accordance with the code of the samurai.”
His thin eyebrows narrowed together. The look in Loki’s eye as he stared at Raishin changed, like there was a glimmer of light in it. It resembled the way a predator viewed its prey.
“I see. So, that idiot is the one who defeated Felix… Second Last, huh?”
“What about it?”
Gathering their magical energy, the two of them glared at each other.
As the bystanders held their breath while they watched on, Loki turned his gaze away.
He turned around like he had lost all interest. His automaton also ceased its preparations, lowering its blade. The parts which formed the “wings” retracted back into its body.
Moving to depart, he stopped, and glanced at Raishin over his shoulder.
“Withdraw from the Night Party. And don’t ever get involved with me or my sister again.”
Raishin snorted with laughter as he replied “I refuse.”
His metallic automaton alongside him, Loki walked away.
Raishin suddenly noticed that he had cold sweat running down his back.
With Charl butting in, it was a 3 on 1 fight. It should have been a severe disadvantage for him. However, Loki didn’t call his automaton back because “it was disadvantageous”. He had the confidence that even in that sort of fight, he’d still win. That was why he was able to casually turn his back on all of them.
Once Loki’s figure had disappeared from sight, a ball of light enveloped Sigmund as he transformed back into his smaller form.
Uncharacteristically, Yaya breathed a sigh of relief.
As the crowd started to disperse, Raishin stepped into the cage and extended his hand out to Frey. Frey was startled, but nodded slightly when Raishin asked her “Can you stand?”
“I guess you have nothing to say to me? Such rudeness!”
Rabi approached the petulant Charl, sniffing at her feet and wagging his tail. Charl smiled at him without thinking, then quickly frowned again, covering it with a cough.
Once Frey had stood up, she turned to Raishin and bowed.
“Uh… Thank you… for protecting Rabi.”
“I just did what I felt like doing. More importantly, why do you and Sword Emperor boy not get along?”
If there was an answer, she wasn’t forthcoming with it.
Having being rescued, an explanation was expected… normally. But as she opened her mouth to speak Frey closed it again, eyes darting all about the place, eventually looking down in an attempt to conceal it, before speaking.
“Loki… hates me.”
“Hate? What do you mean?”
Frey wasn’t saying anything more than that. Bowing to Raishin once more, she turned and hurried off. Rabi chased after her lonely figure.
Her behaviour was most curious. Raishin uncharacteristically ignored Yaya— whose eyes opened wide in shock at this— and turned towards Charl, who was standing beside the sulking Yaya.
“She’s a 3rd year, so she should have already chosen her specialisation. Which department does she belong to?”
“I am not your encyclopedia, you insolent fellow.”
In a bad mood, Charl testily rebuked him, before gazing upwards to think.
“Let’s see, Frey should be in… the Machine Tactics department. It should be at the faculty of history.”
“I see. Thanks.”
“… You’re not thinking of going to investigate, are you?”
“Let’s go, Yaya.”
“Wa— Are you serious!? I’d advise you not to do that.”
“But it looks like there’s something going on with her—“
“That’s why I’m telling you to stop.”
With a cool look in her eyes, she stated flatly.
“Once you know your opponent’s circumstances, you won’t be able to win.”
He understood what Charl was trying to say.
Chasing after such knowledge would burden him. And once on the battlefield, any hesitation would be fatal.
“If I defeat her without knowing, I’ll probably regret it even more.”
“You think your victory is assured? You’re too overconfident!”
“I don’t intend on losing. That’s why I want to investigate this. After all, that’s what I did the last time, and don’t you think it’s a good thing that I didn’t end up stealing your entry after all?”
Upon hearing that, Charl blushed furiously.
“Fine then, do as you please! I’m definitely not going to help you!”